An oil spill in the North Sea and a nuclear ship in Baltimore

The Gannet Alpha oil platform in the North Sea, 180 kilometers off the Scottish coast, has experienced an oil leak.

As oil spills go, this one is fairly minor, as the valves at both the well and the pipeline have been shut off immediately, so the only oil that escaped was what was still inside the leaking pipe. Nonetheless, the Scotsman reports that the Gannet Alpha oil spill is the worst spill near the British coast in a decade. Given how many oil platforms there are off the British coast, this actually speaks for the relative safety of oil drilling in the North Sea. Nonetheless, this spill indicates how important maintaining sufficient oil spill response equipment is. What is more, Shell, who operate the affected platform, did not handle the information policy well at all.

Jay Lake pointed me to this article about the NS Savannah, an American nuclear powered cruise ship commissioned in 1961 and in service for only ten years.

This article was a real blast from the past, because I visited the NS Savannah (NS stands for “nuclear ship”) in 1988, when she was moored in Charleston along with the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown and a submarine. As a cruise ship, she was not much, but technologically interesting, even if nuclear propulsion eventually turned out to be a technological dead end, like most nuclear technologies.

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